Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Killing Monsters: why children need fantasy

Because I value peace, I have had a guarded trust that my son Corbin's desire for toy weapons and action figures is valuable for his emotional growth. When his action figures and toy weapons inspire “let’s kick some butt fantasy play” my trust can wane but Killing Monsters: why fantasy matters by Gerard Jones has inspired greater trust in my sons fantasy play. I see more clearly why all children and teens are drawn to toy weapons, graphic video games and gangster rap.

Jones helped me look past the fear mongering about violent looking fantasy play and see the child’s side. When he spoke with Adults who as teens explored the dark side of life through Goth culture, punk music or games, so many said the violence in a movie or a song reflected the feelings that they experienced and offered them solace. They felt heard and understood so then they felt better and calmer. He debunks that children are drawn to the violence because they want to be violent. They are drawn to it to understand it and get passed it.

Although Corbin has considerable freedom he has several obstacles to overcome such as learning to swim, learning to sleep by himself, and to read fluently before he can be a more independent person. I can see more clearly that his fascination with toy weapons or super heroes is an expression of his need to be in control of his own destiny.

So a few days ago I let go of my inhibitions, judgments, and concerns to play "kill the bad guys" with Corbin. We made guns and knives from K'nex. We were a secret police force that didn't play by the rules. My son said "There are rules but WE don’t play by them." So we went on an imaginary killing spree to get rid of the "bad guys" in our house. I could see a son who was so happy enjoying the power in him self. Then I remembered how I felt when Sara Connor kicked the Terminator’s butt, I felt strong and powerful. I felt safe.

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